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Television producer Chuck Barris produced the popular game shows The Dating Game, The Newlywed Game, and the Gong Show. His autobiography was made into a film.
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Television producer. Born June 3, 1929 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. After graduating from Drexel Institute of Technology in 1953, Barris held several odd jobs before moving to New York.
After landing a low-level job at NBC, Barris bribed his way onto the sales staff only to get laid off during cutbacks. After a year of unemployment, ABC offered him the post of watchdog for Dick Clark, who at the time was caught up in scandal for which he would have to testify in Washington. During his time on the set of American Bandstand, Barris and Clark became friends, and Barris eventually got a full-time job in daytime television at ABC.
Barris' first game show attempt was called People Poker, though it never sold. Fed up with the red tape at ABC, he decided to go out on his own. He borrowed $20,000 from his stepfather, developed The Dating Game and sold the pilot to ABC. The network opted not to put it on the schedule, but after its other game shows failed, The Dating Game made its debut and became an instant hit.
In 1966, Barris followed up his success with The Newlywed Game. That same year, The Dating Game was bumped up to prime time. The prizes for both were spare, but Barris knew that the opportunity for contestants to appear on television was prize enough. It was a formula he exploited for years and game shows to come. Though critically panned, his shows were undeniably popular with television audiences.
Barris quickly sold three more shows: The Family Game, a year-long beauty pageant called Dream Girl of 1968 and How's Your Mother-in-Law? After he launched Barris Industries in 1968, more shows followed, including The Game Game and Operation: Entertainment. The formula began to wear thin, however, and by 1974 the last of his shows, The Newlywed Game, was dropped.
But in 1976, Barris made a comeback with The Gong Show, and at NBC's insistence, hosted it himself. Though critics argued that the show demeaned its contestants, The Gong Show found its audience and made the host, whose antics got crazier as the years wore on, into a bona fide star. But by 1980, The Gong Show was falling behind in the ratings and was eventually canceled.
In 1986, he scaled down Barris Industries, wrote his autobiography, Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, and moved to Saint-Tropez. He published his second autobiography, The Game Show King, in 1993. In 2003, Confessions of a Dangerous Mind was made into a feature film directed by George Clooney. The film explores one of the book's most controversial story lines, Barris' claim that he was a CIA operative in the 1960s.
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